After redshirting his first season on campus, UCLA receiver Eldridge Massington said he has fully recovered from the ACL tear he suffered two years ago — and is excited to finally hit the field again at Virginia on Saturday.
— Caleb Benenoch (@CalebBenenoch74) August 28, 2014
The second season of “The Drive” premiered on Pac-12 Networks Wednesday night, focusing on UCLA’s training camp at Cal State San Bernardino earlier this month.
For the most part, the 26-minute episode was spent setting the scene for the Bruins’ season: Players get settle into their dorms, and hit the field while mic-ed up coaches bark instructions. Head coach Jim Mora gave a few inspirational speeches, and all was well.
One interesting scene was when cameras followed Mora on one of his runs in the San Bernardino hills. You could hear Mora trying to catch his breath as he waxed on about his coaching philosophy — making for an up-close slice of his daily routine. The Pac-12 Networks crew had noticed Mora jetting toward the trail after practices. When they asked about it, he told them, “You can shoot it, but I don’t think you can keep up.”
To make sure they didn’t fall behind the obsessively in-shape 52-year-old, “The Drive” needed three cameras: one at the bottom of the hills, one mid-way up the trail, and a GoPro strapped to show narrator Yogi Roth. Continue reading
Despite finishing last season as the nation’s No. 110 scoring offense, Virginia can at least take solace in its running back corps. Senior Kevin Parks returns as the program’s eighth-leading all-time rusher, and he has a pair of capable backups in Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd.
UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks said the trio looks “shifty,” but stressed that he’ll be watching for hard, downhill runs.
“They’re going to take it to the perimeter a little bit,” Kendricks said. “They’ll have some lead guys pulling for them and stuff like that, but for the main part they’re going to get upfield.”
The senior co-captain also talked about Virginia’s quarterbacks, and what he looks for in opposing offensive lines.
Leading up to UCLA’s season opener this Saturday at 9 a.m. PT, who better to scout the opponent than a Virginia beat writer? Andrew Ramspacher of The Daily Progress in Charlottesville took the time to answer five questions about the Cavaliers.
How hot is Mike London’s seat right now? Is there a rough performance bar he has to clear in order to keep his job?
You go 6-20 in your last 26 games, you have declining attendance (see an expected crowd in the mid-40,000s Saturday) and you struggle to handle the quarterback situation, your seat is obviously going to be hot. There’s no doubt Mike London is facing some serious heat this season. It’s his fifth year at UVa and the program has gone in the opposite direction after a 2011 campaign in which he took ACC Coach of the Year honors and guided the Cavaliers to eight wins and a trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Virginia administration, despite multiple requests, has chosen to remain mum on the situation, not publicly stating a bar. But I would believe six wins would keep London for a sixth year. Continue reading
UCLA receiver Jordan Payton talked about Virginia’s secondary Tuesday, praising the All-American safety Anthony Harris and comparing the unit to another ACC team the Bruins faced last year.
At the end of his interview session on Tuesday, UCLA receiver Devin Lucien looked into the cameras and offered a heartfelt dedication to his mother, Trina Matthews — who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I’m trying to keep it down, but number one, I wanted to thank everybody for all their support when I was in the hospital,” Lucien said. “And I want to thank everybody for what they’ve been talking about my mom. You know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, so — trying not to get soaked up — that’s been a lot. And this season is dedicated for moms, point blank.
“And that’s another reason for the (hair)do, because it’s really about to go down and people aren’t understanding — let me look at all the cameras when I say that.”
Maybe it’s because he’s never started a game before, but Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert missed a memo.
Slated to start behind center against UCLA on Saturday, the redshirt sophomore laid down some Grade-A chalkboard material this week when asked about the Bruins — who return eight starters to a defense ranked 35th nationally in opponent scoring, and add a potential star in defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa after a year off due to hip surgeries.
A UCLA offensive line that was projected to have experience and depth could be missing a crucial piece this weekend at Virginia.
Center Jake Brendel, a third-year starter, has been limited in practice since injuring his MCL two weeks ago during training camp at Cal State San Bernardino. The junior is a team co-captain who was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season.
Asked Tuesday about Brendel’s status for the Bruins’ 9 a.m. PT Saturday kickoff at Virginia, head coach Jim Mora said, “We’ll see.”
It’s a dramatic downgrade from the original diagnosis. Right after Brendel was carted off the field, Mora had expressed hope that the former Freshman All-American would only miss “a day or two.” Even last week, he sounded confident that Brendel would play.
If Brendel is unavailable, UCLA could move starting guard Alex Redmond to replace him. A Freshman All-American last year, Redmond has practiced a bit at center since Brendel’s injury. Backup center Scott Quessenberry could be an option if he recovers fully from a concussion suffered in training camp.
» USC cornerback Josh Shaw sprained his ankles saving his nephew from drowning during a family social on Saturday. Remarkably, Shaw leaped off second-story balcony when he saw the 7-year-old struggling, landing on the concrete before crawling into the pool.
UPDATE: Serious doubts about Shaw’s story have surfaced, and USC is investigating further.
» Anu Solomon officially became Arizona’s starting quarterback, marking the first time since freshmen became eligible in 1972 that the Wildcats will open the season with one behind center.